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Tapeworms: What wormer is best?


A proglottid (tapeworm segment) from the cestode Dipylidium caninum / CDC

A proglottid (tapeworm segment) from the cestode Dipylidium caninum

Question: Tapeworms: What wormer is best?
Tapeworms are a very common parasite of dogs and cats. Most commonly transmitted by fleas, this parasite is also transmissible to humans who accidentally eat an infected flea (i.e. infants and children). Treatment for tapeworm infection in pets is easy if the correct drug is used. Click here to learn more about tapeworms and other parasites.
Answer: Most pet owners can recognize the telltale sign of a tapeworm infection in their dog or cat: small white "sesame seed" or "piece of rice" segments near the tail or on the bedding.

Tapeworms are flat like a ribbon, and made up of segments called proglottids. The proglottids contain the tapeworm eggs. As the tapeworm grows, the proglottids eventually break off and exit via the anus. These off-white segments can range from approximately 5 milimeters (one quarter of an inch) when moist and moving, to as small as a sesame seed after they have dessicated a few hours later.

Unlike other intestinal worms (please see parasites) that are killed with an oral wormer medication and passed out with the stool, tapeworms require a different medication. This medication is called praziquantel, and has only recently been available without prescription. Please consult with your veterinarian for more information. This drug is available as a pill or as an injection for pets. The tapeworm dies and is not usually seen in the stool after the deworming.

Most veterinarians will dispense this medication to current patients (seen within the last 12 months). Your veterinarian may want to see your pet for an accurate weight, as this medication is dosed according to weight.

Flea control is essential. Protect your pets, your family and your home environment by learning how to effectively control fleas.

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